From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]

“I’m scared of elevators in Cairo. Maybe it’s because I’m
claustrophobic. Or because I’ve gotten stuck several times, once for
over 45 minutes. Not all of them are bad, but there really are some
sketchy lifts. Don’t believe me? Do a YouTube search on “Cairo

I was even more scared when I was at the Cairo Tower and the elevator-
man whispered a prayer to himself as we started the climb.

A few months ago, I read a posting on Terra Daily originally written
by the AFP in Cairo called “Egyptian Faithful Crave New Islamic
Gadgets.” The article mentioned several new tech gadgets that Muslims
in Cairo were buying, like Ramadan-edition Nokia cellphones and
digital Koran mp3 players. Another device I read about was a prayer
box fitted into cars and elevators that recites a digital doah asafir,
or travel prayer, before moving.

That’s how this video came about.

An Egyptain salesman holds up a digital Koran in Cairo.

Egyptian Faithful Crave New Islamic Gadgets
BY Ines Bel Aiba  /  April 18, 2007

Cairo residents, already summoned to prayers five times a day by a
chorus of scratchy loudspeakers, are now clamouring for a new line of
portable electronic devices to show their devotion to Islam.

Digital Korans, automatic prayer reciters and headphones dispensing
religious advice are all part of the growing wave of outward
religiosity that is increasingly defining daily life in Egypt.

“As a Muslim, I find that hearing these prayers bodes well for the
rest of the day,”said Osama Abdel Hamid, an economics professor at
Cairo University, as he searched through a busy car parts market for
an electronic prayer-reciter.

The little black speaker box that appeared a few months ago is
catching on quickly among Cairo’s cab drivers, who wire it up so that
the prayers pour out the moment they open the door or turn the

It’s slightly more pious than the “It’s a Small World After All”
jingle that are heard from taxis when they hit the brakes, melding
with the constant din of horns and shouting in the city of 16 million

Mohammed Mahmud, a seller of car parts and gadgets in the city’s
Tawfiqiyah market, says the Chinese-made devices have become very
popular in recent months.

“You can also put them in elevators,” added Mahmud, from his stall in
one of the city’s oldest markets, where fruit and vegetable sellers
are slowly giving way to the peddlers of the trinkets, noise-makers,
and assorted kitsch that adorn Cairo taxis.

The little black speakers sell for only seven Egyptian pounds (a
little over a dollar), but Abdel Hamid, the economics professor,
admitted he was actually looking for a better quality Thai-made model
since the Chinese one he bought “fried after about an hour.”

The devout can find a more upscale model in the “Ayat,” which was
recently exhibited at the GITEX exposition in Dubai, the largest
information technology and communication fair in the region.

Resembling a fancy pair of earphones, the Ayat can give the wearer
advice, in Arabic or English, on the number of prostrations necessary
for each type of prayer. It also plays Koranic verses.

“The idea came to me on a plane when I was listening to my iPod,” said
developer Sherif Danesh, an Egyptian living in California’s Silicon

“Many people of all religions are hungry for information on their
religion these days,” he told AFP by e-mail. “The availability of
small portable inexpensive audio and video devices is making it very
easy to access such information anywhere, anytime.”

Putting Koranic verses and prayers into electronic format can be a
fraught enterprise, however, as a number of manufacturers discovered
in 2005 when Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa condemned the use of verses
as ring tones.

Gomaa, one of the highest authorities for Sunni Islam in Egypt,
described it as “a devaluing of the sacred book.”

Danesh said he was careful to get the necessary approval before
developing Ayat, and said he had already sold several thousand of the
devices, which cost 380 pounds (67 dollars, 49 euros).

The proliferation of Islamic gadgets cuts across markets, ranging in
complexity from an alarm clock for the five daily prayers with a built-
in compass pointing towards Mecca, to an entirely digital Koran
accompanied by the hadith (traditions) of the Prophet Mohammed.

At 1,200 pounds (210 dollars), however, the electronic Koran is pretty
far outside the average Egyptian’s reach.

Many see the gadgets as part of the public piety that increasingly
pervades Egyptian society, where the vast majority of women wear
religious headscarves and an increasing number of men sport the
“zebiba” — a prune-like bruise on the forehead that supposedly comes
from vigorous praying.

Dalal al-Bizri, a columnist for the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, sees the
devices as evidence of the importance of appearances in contemporary

“It’s a religion whose followers seem to need to touch, to feel the
beyond — much like the pagans they once condemned,” she said, adding
that such outward displays betray “an insistence on belief, as though
some deeper conviction was lacking.”

Sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, on the other hand, thinks the trend is
more indicative of the “naivety of the consumers and the intelligence
of the merchants.”

“It also says a lot about how quickly the Chinese economy reacts and
adapts to the desires of the consumers — whoever they are,” he said
with a smile.


Manufacturer: Enmac Engineering Ltd. (2005)
Product type: Digital Qur’an Reader Book (Electronic)

Product description:

Now, have the Qur’an at your hand, wherever you go, in a beautiful
color display along with superb audio recitation quality!

Easy navigation through 114 Sura and 6666 Ayat. Arabic, English, Urdu
or French translation can be viewed during recitation. Hear complete
recitation of Dua Khatam ul Quran with high quality audio voice. 28
supplications in Arabic are displayed over colorful natural images
with translation in English. Play voice audio of each Du’a. Colorful
slide show of 99 Names of Allah (Ism e Husna) is displayed with voice
audio .

Product Features —

High resolution color screen.
High quality voice audio.
Complete Holy Quran (114 Surahs).
Quran translation in urdu, english and french.
Easy navigation through 114 Sura and 6666 Ayat.
Holy Quran text in Uthmanic font.
Colorful slides of 99 names of Allah with audio. – Dua Khatam ul
Qur’an with audio.
Daily supplications with colorful slides with audio.
FM transmeter facility.
Clock with alarm setting.
Built-in long lasting rechargable battery.
Voice of Shaikh Abdul Rehman Al-Saudais. & Shaikh Saoud Al-Sharaim.

One year manufacturer’s warranty. Made in Hong Kong. Shipping weight:
1.1 pounds

Accessories —

Stereo Headphones
USB cable (Charging from PC)
6V DC Charger.
User Manual
Digital Pocket Quran Cover

Product Specifications —

Dimension: 90x62x20 LxWxH mm LCD
Size: 160×128 LxW pixels
Weight: 85 grams including battery
Battery: 3.7V 1100mAh LiIon
External Power: DC Input 5V
Computer USB power
Earphone Output: 11mW x 2 Frequency: 200Hz-10KHz

Enmac Digital Quran EE-CDQ-05 with Color LCD Screen : Arabic Audio :
Arabic with English, French, Urdu Text Translation with headphones and
rechargeable battery (Shaykh Abdur-rahman al-Sudais and Saud al-
Shuraim) A4686$179.95

Leave a Reply